Meet the creators, Black Women PhDs, Latoya and Dominiqua, in this enlightening chat with Stylish Academic.
Black Women PhDs is an online community where Black Women with PhDs and Doctoral students are featured, and they connect.
Latoya, please tell me about yourself
I am a 3rd year doctoral student in Counselor Education at the Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, PA.
I am also a National Board Certified Counselor.
My research interests include issues related to trauma and recovery, especially related to women of color and the methods that they use to cope.
I am also interested in the various aspects of their lives that trauma impacts, including career, and parent-child relationships.
I am a first generation college student, a wife, and mom of 3.
I love reading, hiking, relaxing road trips, and being with my family.
I also love teaching, and I am excited about my research!
I am pressing toward graduation for this coming May (2019).
I recently defended my dissertation and will be starting a tenure track Assistant Professor of School Counseling position at California State University, Fresno.
My PhD is in Counselor Education and Supervision with a Dual Title in Comparative and International Education.
My work centers on understanding the roles and practices of school counselors in Barbados, and situating Barbados within the small states literature and international counseling.
I have a school counseling background and I will continue to foster the partnership I have with the Ministry of Education in Barbados to inform policy and eventually expand.
When I’m not writing or connecting people, which I believe is my superpower, I enjoy traveling, reading, exercising and sampling cupcakes, if that counts as a hobby. Ha!
How did Black Women PhDs begin…what inspired it…?
Latoya: Interestingly, Dominiqua and I were chatting on the telephone, and she brought this up.
This was her idea.
We were discussing the experiences of too many Black Women in their doctoral programs: feeling alone, as if they were the only ones, and not always knowing other Black Women who were also on the journey.
We sat for a while considering what we would call something like this, and wondered if people would allow us to celebrate them.
We asked, and people actually allowed us to feature them.
We were and are so grateful to have a space that celebrates Black Women across the Diaspora.
It encourages us, and we are always so excited when we see past features collaborate or connect in other ways.
It is our hope that it addresses the original concern: the isolation, and feeling alone in your programs.
So the idea was literally developed over the telephone and via text. We were chatting after a group that we facilitated.
When did Black Women PhDs launch… ?
Latoya: Black Women PhDs launched on May 21st, 2017.
We are also working on a website to hold all of the features.
We are in conversation about events, and next steps.
Are there any challenges you would consider peculiar to being a woman in academia, especially a Black woman?
Latoya: I would say that there is a lot of research related to the challenges that women face in academia, and a lot of it is contextualized within the history of what academia is, and who it was created for (in America).
I will admit that I can’t speak for every space, though my experience has reflected the data.
Academia is male oriented, and there are not many Black people in the space.
As a Black Woman, there are even lower numbers.
I recently read an article about the experience of impostor syndrome for people of color, and how it has a layered impact as a result.
How Students of Color Confront Imposter Syndrome, a Ted Talk
So what role does Black Women PhDs play here…
Latoya: I think that Black Women PhDs can and does play a part in providing tools, road maps, and examples to combat impostor syndrome.
While impostor syndrome is not specific to just Black people or Black Women, we often struggle to find the support or mentors that might help us to address it.
We have observed so many women connect, partner, and collaborate in ways that have been shown to provide reassurance, and improve confidence.
It is our hope to connect women more directly, in the near future.
Indirectly, it is important that women find support and reflections of themselves in real time.
In an article published by Jamie Swift on XONeicole, we shared ideas that have worked for us, such as connecting with others on our own campuses who have similar experiences, and getting involved.
On our page, we have observed women highlighting that they were on the same campuses.
It is our hope that they will share resources and actually connect.
We plan to be more explicit in sharing this hope.
In that, we also hope to find more women so that women who are not in spaces that are most commonly featured might be able to make those connections too.
Success on Black Women PhDs so far…
Latoya: We count it a success when women finally agree to be featured, as so many times, women have been surprised that we would consider them, or wonder if they “qualify,” or are just so grateful.
We count it a success when we are able to reflect that they are not only worthy, but deserve so much more than what we can offer.
The women that we feature are amazing, and we are always surprised when they are surprised that they are more than worthy of celebrating.
We count it as a success when women who are featured inspire others with their stories.
We received several stories from women who report feeling tired, and wondering if they will be able to finish, but then feeling encouraged from a post.
We received several DMs, and emails from women reporting having had finished their first semester, and having had used the features to encourage them.
They tell us that they see themselves in the women that are featured. This encourages us, and lets us know that we are on the right track.
In addition to women from PhD programs, we receive feedback from teachers, counselors, faculty, community agencies, and friends about how they share the page with others (including their own students (ages 5 – 17), clients, family, and friends).
When we see women complete their programs, gain tenure, or other accolades, this is success to us.
We have begun to specifically ask women to share their updates with us so that we are able to add those to the page.
Has BW PhDs met any opposition at all, negative feedback?
Latoya: Other pages that support women in graduate school, or PhD students at all have been very supportive.
We all serve different purposes, and it seems more like an expanded community.
In terms of negative feedback, we have noticed people who post negative comments under features, but not very often.
We try really hard to moderate while managing our other roles.
We want women to have a moment in the spotlight and an opportunity to connect.
We really don’t want this to be another space that women have to combat nonsense.
Interestingly, we have received feedback related to how women look or their level of attractiveness at times, but as you might see we have responded with our expectations about what the page is for.
Dominiqua: in terms of negative comments, it’s more of an over-sexualization of the women.
We’ve addressed this in the past and it hasn’t been an issue since then.
We want folks to truly understand that we are more than physically pleasing to the eye, and we contribute to our individual fields each and every day.
Our work matters and will be taken seriously.
Latoya: We have been fortunate for the community that we have landed in, amongst other pages that are working to support a group that is often underrepresented and uncelebrated.
To be featured on Black Women PhDs:
Please send an email with your bio & pic to blackwomenphds [at] gmail [dot] com, DM us @blackwomenPhDs or simply tag your photos #blackwomenphds
Header photo: Dominiqua ©
More resources curated by Black Women PhDs:
Black Doctoral Women: Exploring Barriers and Facilitators of Success in Graduate Education
(Patterson-Stephens, S. M., & Vital, L. M. (2017). Black Doctoral Women: Exploring Barriers and Facilitators of Success in Graduate Education. Academic Perspectives in Higher Education, 3(1), 5.)
Predictors of Imposter Phenomenon Among Talented Ethnic Minority Undergraduate Students
(Peteet, B. J., Montgomery, L., & Weekes, J. C. (2015). Predictors of imposter phenomenon among talented ethnic minority undergraduate students. The Journal of Negro Education, 84(2), 175-186.)
The Imposter Phenomenon in Higher Education: Incidence and Impact
(Parkman, A. (2016). The imposter phenomenon in higher education: Incidence and impact. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 16(1), 51-60. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1791293249?accountid=13158)